Castle Rings Fort
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
I discovered this Iron Age fort when I was looking at Oysters Coppice on the ordnance survey map. Just a short walk to the South West of the coppice, it is a distinctive round shape and rather large. Looking at aerial photos of the site, the perimeter appeared to be covered in trees which can mask the shape of the fort at ground level.
Parking my car at Gutch Common, a small hamlet nearby I set off to walk along a public footpath that would take me to the north edge of the fort. The first part of the path was incredibly steep and lung busting, but thankfully short as the summit topped out at 241 metres / 790 feet. There is a trig point to be found up here, and as I was inspecting it realised I had left my ipod in the car, so had to go down the steep hill and retrieve it. The ipod acts as a viewfinder when using my drone so it is essential if I want to get some aerial footage.
Instead of going up the steep hill again, I took the more leisurely route of the minor road that runs parallel to the footpath and takes a more gradual climb up the summit.
Upon reaching the fort, I had to step off the road and enter into the steep banks of the structure, which were about 14 feet deep. Upon reaching the inner rampart, it was clear that the interior is used for grazing as it is fenced off and had signs of recent occupation by sheep. A fallen tree had damaged the fence in front of me so I was able to step in and look around.
The entire perimeter is indeed covered in mature shrubs and trees, acting as a barrier and a disguise but once you are inside there is no denying its origin as a hill fort. It is big as well, and I struggled to find a good vantage point where I could get the whole fort into an aerial shot with the drone. I had to walk a good 500 metres away from the fort to do this.
Back in the 1980's a metal detectorist discovered a hoard of stater coins from within the fort which were attributed to the Durotriges tribe. They were a celtic tribe living in Britain prior to the Roman invasion, and were native to this area of South Wiltshire and Dorset. He got into some trouble though as you can't just dig into a scheduled monument and he was prosecuted and fined. The fine was more than offset by the payment he received from the British Museum as the find was declared treasure trove.
Overall, a fascinating place to visit, which is truly hidden. It is not signposted at all so is really off the beaten track.